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The Raising of Lazarus

Scripture: John 11:1-57

The raising of Lazarus occurred shortly before Holy Week. Lazarus along with his sisters, Mary and Martha, were close friends of Jesus. When news of Lazarus’ illness reached Jesus, He delayed for two days allowing him to die “that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (Jn 11:4). On arriving Martha ran out to meet Him, and in the subsequent discourse, she beautifully confessed the resurrection of all flesh on the Last Day. Jesus then declared that He is the Resurrection and the Life. Mary too confessed Jesus as Lord, even as she wept for her brother. Moved by her tears, the mourning Jews, and Lazarus’ death, Jesus wept. Death is sad even for Him. Yet He is the Lord of all. He commanded them to roll away the stone. Martha mildly objected since Lazarus had been dead for four days and would have smelled. But the stone is removed. After praying to the Father so all would know that the Father had sent Him, He called out, “Lazarus, come out.” And the dead man came out still bound. This miracle led the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, to plot His death more eagerly. They also desired to kill Lazarus.

In this miracle Jesus teaches us that He has power over death. By His cross and empty tomb, He defeated death. Death is the result of sin. Physical death is proof that a person has sinned. But more, Scripture says that we were born dead in sin. What could Lazarus do to raise himself? He couldn’t take the first step to Jesus. He couldn’t ask Jesus for help. He couldn’t respond to Jesus. No spark of life or goodness rested in him. He was dead. This is how all are born. All are equally dead in sin unable to do anything toward conversion. But Christ has raised us from death to life by His Word. By His Word He unites us to His cross and resurrection, creates faith, and pours out His eternal blessings. We do nothing. Christ has done everything for us. Christ has given everything to us by His Holy Spirit. This conversion is the first resurrection (Rev 20:6). The second resurrection is on the Last Day. For us believers, physical death is nothing but a sleep. We will still physically die, but that is not the end of anything. Believers remain alive in Christ. So Christ will wake us up. Christ will raise our bodies. Christ will make our bodies to be like His glorious body. And so we shall live with the Lord forever.

May this widow remind us that Jesus is our Life. He has overcome sin and death for us. He has raised us by His Word. He will raise us on the Last Day. Thus, we must live in heaven forever.